Friday, September 25, 2009

MBS - What a GREAT Weekend!

Last weekend (9/17 - 9/20), I, along with my friend Rob, attended the Midwest Birding Symposium in Lakeside, Ohio - close to Cedar Point. I have tried really hard to figure out what words to use to describe this event and to this moment, I am still torn. Since I am a little confused on what wording to use, I am going to use a combination of words. To me, the event was - outstanding, exceptional, brilliant, amazing, splendid, grand, and most of all, overwhelming! Overwhelming in a good way!

Sunrise at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge... Ohio.

Why so awesome? Why so overwhelming? Well, let me tell ya. Until this visit, I had never been to the Lakeside area. I was extremely excited and couldn't wait to get there! Luckily, I was with a friend who had no objections to pushing the speed limit which made for a much quicker trip. Unfortunately, we arrived in the evening and didn't get to look around much but what I did have a chance to see was a gorgeous lake shore hugged on the shoulder by some remarkably beautiful marshland. We arrived to Lakeshore just in time to see the movie "Opposable Chums", a documentary about the World Series of Birding and an interesting look at exactly how crazy birders are and to what lengths they will go to find birds! I highly recommend it! By the end of the show, I couldn't wait to get back to the hotel and go to sleep so that the next day would come.

Bronze Copper... Ottawa NWR. A gorgeous insect!

It did come. We made our first official birding trip to Sheldon Marsh where I quickly collected two life birds - a Blackpoll Warbler and a Marsh Wren. Could the day get any better at this point?

Kirtland's Warbler... East Harbor, Ohio

Well, maybe if they announced at the first program that a Kirtland's Warbler was spotted just down the road from the Symposium!!!! Hello? The announcement came and a herd of birders left the room instantly to make their way to the park to catch a glimpse of this amazing endangered Warbler. We were part of this herd!

We arrived and spent a couple of hours in search of the bird. Rob finally caught a glimpse and I unfortunately didn't. Nearly crying, I made my way back to the symposium feeling like a penny waiting for change. Then, like two birding angels came two friends of mine from the Indiana Audubon Society who were both very anxious to go birding and wanted to go see the Kirtland's too. They invited me to go along and off we went. We made our way down the trail and BAM!! There is was, at almost eye level - a gorgeous, awesome, striking Kirtland's Warbler!

Me and Kenn Kaufman... YES, THE Kenn Kaufman

And just as I was trying to catch my breath from the Kirtland's Warbler and few other lifers I saw Kenn Kaufman standing across the room. Now I haven't been an "official" birder for but a few years but there is one thing that I have learned so far... Kenn is THE man! I have yet to come across his name for any other reason than good. He is the like the International Spokesperson for the well-being of birds and their habitat! I approached Kenn and Kim's area a little bit nervous but was instantly relieved when Kenn and his wife began to speak to me and Rob as if they had known us forever. Absolutely wonderful people!

Rob and I with the Cornell Team!

OK, so now it can't get any better right? Wrong! On Sunday, Rob and I were fortunate enough to run into the folks from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. That's right, the good doers of all things birds! A great organization. We actually was able to have lunch with them and afterward spend a little time birding in Ottawa. Oh yeah, along the way we met another great kid, Andy (on the right) who turned out to be a very well tuned birder! He actually help me get another lifer... a Gray-cheeked Thrush. All of these folks were very good people! I am fortunate to have met them!

Leopard Frogs... Ottawa Visitors Center. My favorite frogs!

Philadelphia Vireo... Magee Marsh Boardwalk. Guess what? Lifer!

Can you really ever get enough of these signs? I don't think so!

Peregrine Falcon... MBS. This bird was actually an injured bird on display from a local rehab group.

There were so many things to do, to see, to watch at the Symposium. From birding presentations from experts such as Bill Thompson III, David Sibley, and Kenn Kaufman to a presentation from a movie star - Jane Alexander, about her journeys in birding. I even met some of the coolest bloggers out there... Red and the Peanut and Bird Chick!
I could write forever and ever about my experience at the MBS. I am definitely sold on the event and plan to attend the next one. If you are a birder, you have to go. I guarantee you won't regret it!

Sheldon Marsh


Weedpicker Cheryl said...

Glad you had a great time Chad-
It was nice to meet you!

So glad you got the Kirtland's- you must have some lucky charm. :) Cheryl

eileeninmd said...

Wow, you had a great time! It must have been nice to meet such a famous group of birders. I've been to Magee Marsh and Cedar Point but at the wrong time of year. Your birds and critters photos are great.

OpposableChums said...

Thanks for the shout-out regarding my film.

Unfortunately, I had to leave the Symposium early, but was STILL IN LAKESIDE, loading up my car when the Kirtland's was announced, in the building I'd just walked out of.

And so I drove back to NYC ignorant of the bird, only to find the heated emails about it when I was home.

If you think I've gotten over it yer, you're wrong...

Chad said...

No problem, I enjoyed your film! Sorry you didn't get the Kirtlands - I didn't get it the first time around and had to go back in the afternoon. Thank goodness I got it!

Indiana State Bird

Indiana State Bird
Northern Cardinal